Sugar User Group: Our Favorite SugarCRM Projects of 2015
To wrap up 2015, we interviewed across several departments to select our favorite projects of the year. Using feedback from engineering on the most technically advanced projects and the best customer success stories from sales, we were able to narrow it down to the following eight customizations.
1. Employment History Module
Sugar out-of-the-box is built to fit the traditional sales funnel of moving through the pipeline by converting leads to contacts and associating each contact with an account. But some business operate using a unique sales process. For example, we have one customer in the energy industry who has a set list of Accounts they work with, while the Contacts at each company are often changing and moving around to different Accounts.
To help them keep track of employment history, we created a custom module called “Contacts Log”. When viewing a contact record, the Contacts Log subpanel shows all the Accounts the contact has worked for and the duration of their employment there. This helps sales reps have a thorough understand of a contact’s background and create stronger customer relationships.
One of our customers wanted to gather more business intelligence around Opportunities. Management needed to be able to easily look at an Opportunity record and know what activities (Calls, Meetings, Notes) users were created during each stage of an Opportunity. They wanted answers to questions such as, “How many calls is it taking to get to the quote stage?” or “What types of notes are being created in each stage?”. Their current setup contained a lot of activity under each opportunity and no quick, easy way to see a more granular view of what was going on during the sales cycle. To increase analytics around Opportunities, we created a custom dashlet that would allow users to filter activities by opportunity stage. When viewing an Opportunity Record, users can select the stage from the drop-down menu in the dashlet and see all activities created during that stage of the opportunity process.
Now that managers can instantly get a birds-eye-view of whether an opportunity is being handled properly or not, there is increased accountability throughout the sales team to enter data and follow organizational sales processes.
Dashlets allow users to keep relevant reports right at their fingertips when viewing a record. But if your CRM system contains a wealth of information, it may be necessary to break down dashlet information even further. Our custom Dynamic Dashlets do just that.
Dynamic Dashlets refresh in real-time as a user adds filters to the list view of any module. So if you add a filter for the assigned user, region, or date created, the intelligence panel dashlets will refresh instantly (without reloading the page) to include only records that fit that criteria. In the example below, I searched on “Texas” to pull up only Accounts with Texas in the name. As the list view results filtered down, so did the pie chart on the right.
4. Tabbed Dashboard Reports
For companies that store a lot of information in Sugar, a custom home page dashboard may be the solution needed to help reps and managers more easily digest the data.
For this project, we worked with our customer to discover what reports their reps needed quick access to. We then created several custom reports for them and displayed them in a tabbed structure on their homepage. This is their “tabbed dashboard”.
Reps can toggle between reports by clicking on the tabs across the top of the dashboard. The information is displayed numerically and then in graphs below that. These graphs still contain all the great features of out-of-the-box dashlets - such as being able to exclude parts of the data by interacting with the legend. But on top of that, we added filters so that reps can take advantage of runtime filters from Sugar’s reporting engine. Users can also click on sections of the graph to download the granular data in an excel spreadsheet.
Keep in mind that the view we designed for this customer is very specific to their needs, but that a custom dashboard can be designed in any way your business requires!
Sugar has Projects and Cases modules built in for project management, but there is a lack of collaboration and communication tools that purpose-built PM tools have out-of-the-box. W-Systems needed a way to better collaborate on projects and keep customers aware of project statuses.
To do this, we built an integration between Trello (a third-party tool) and Sugar. This integration allows us to use columns to organize to-do items (known as Cases in Sugar) under project status lists. See an example Trello board for a marketing webcast below.
This not only provides our engineers with a tool built solely for project management, but also allows us to give our customer access to all of our notes, status, and tasks around the project. The cloud-based software also has a built-in notification and tagging system so users can be tagged in notes and alerted when changes are made to projects. The integration is built to sync bi-directionally so key pieces of information are always available in Sugar to the rest of the company.
Companies who need to track billable services often do so out of spreadsheets or pen and paper. And while this method may work for a while, it doesn’t when a company starts to scale.
For our internal time tracking system we built an integration between Sugar and Toggl, a third party cloud-application for tracking time. Our engineers already loved the tool, so we integrated it with the Notes, Cases, and Projects modules in Sugar. From Toggl, users can use a start and stop button to log time against any specific project or case. And each time they add time to the project, a note is created to indicate exactly what the time was used for. All of this information syncs to Sugar so it’s accessible to our sales reps.
When sales reps communicate with their customers and prospects via text message on a regular basis, it’s important to track those communications for legal reasons and also to have transparency between teams.
For one customer, we built a SMS integration to Sugar that allows their reps to click a button and initiate a text message conversation with an individual or group directly from Sugar.
The benefit of integrating SMS into their CRM is that reps don’t have to spend any time manually entering text conversations that they sent from their cell phones. Now, all those conversations are automatically (and consistently) saved to the appropriate contact record.
8. Payment Scheduler and Merchant Integration
If your business model involves accepting payments from customers on a regular basis (such as subscription-based services or debt collection) you may be manually processing all those payments. There is an opportunity to save time here using a custom payment scheduler.
On the front end, this looks like a user friendly payment scheduler. The reps use custom fields to enter payment information such as occurrence, amount, and payment processor. The 15 merchant processor integrations we built on the backend process the payments when they are scheduled to occur. The rep can also see a timeline of upcoming payments, as well as add new payments and edit existing ones.
By presenting our favorite projects to you at the end of each year, we hope to showcase the flexibility of the Sugar platform and inspire you to think creatively about what you can do with your CRM system.
To see live demos of these customizations, watch our recorded webcast on this topic below.